“If you want to learn how to be rich, don't ask a financial advisor who makes $60K a year and lives in the suburbs. Ask the person who's earned $10M.” – Guy Kawasaki
NOTE: there are no affiliate links here and I do not benefit whatsoever from this post. Please know this is purely objective and my own thoughts.
The other weekend I read Anthony Robbins' latest book Money: Master The Game. For the last 6 months, one of my biggest focuses has been on investing and understanding how money works. This seemed like a good book to read.
Beyond just money management, I think this sort of education is really important for anyone in the app business. Here's a general overview of what happens to many people (both in our industry and any digital business):
- You start out with the hustler mentality. Learn, fail, strengthen, progress. You all know that story.
- Eventually something clicks and you start making money (HOORAY!)
- Your entire life centers around driving more revenue. Speed, systems, scale, etc. You start making more.
- Your monthly deposits start to come in and you re-invest in the company
- A few months go by and you wake up one day and say “Huh. I'm making all this money…why am I still working 100 hours a week? Why isn't this money working for me?”
- You don't really know what to do next, your business is pretty disorganized due to the nature of building fast, and you start to fear the day you stop making lots of money.
- You look for new businesses, opportunities, and feel sort of “stuck”
Of course, this isn't exactly how it goes for everyone, but most of us can agree that this sounds familiar (or you can imagine it would).
Over the past 2 years, I've been schooled in the world of money. I made a lot…and I lost a lot. Often it was because I was just a newbie and didn't know how this world works. I never went to business school and I didn't have anyone telling me what I should be doing.
Luckily, I fixed that and have a rock solid system in place now. It's changed everything and has become a real passion of mine.
Most importantly, it's something I can help teach many of you so that you don't lose hundreds of thousands of dollars like I did. I'm going to do a full out business course in 2015, but for now, I want to give you a rundown of what Tony Robbins talked about and give you a step by step instruction guide on what you can do.
I'm not here to give you a full synopsis of the book. If you want that, go read the reviews on Amazon. What I am here to do is tell you the most important things you need to know PLUS do the one thing Tony didn't do – exact instructions on what to do next.
If you want a good overview of the book, you can watch an interview here:
Here's the best piece of advice he gives in the book:
- Automate your investing
- Diversify (there are two templates you can use, see below)
- Invest mostly in low cost index funds
Really sexy, huh? Well, unfortunately nothing about investing is sexy. It's boring and built on security NOT growth (the exact opposite of marketing) which is why so many people in our industry fantasize about investing but often fail at it.
So why would you want to do that? Because psychologically, as much as you hate to admit it, you want security. I don't care how much of a badass you think you are, you will feel 100x better when your Chartboost revenue isn't as much as you expected if you know you have an automated investing system in place + money saved. That's just how it is.
The book goes through all sorts of investment vehicles – stocks, bonds, annuities, retirement accounts, real estate, and everything in between. What's funny is that we work in an industry where retiring at 40 seems like you're an old man (or woman). Even funnier is that statistically, very few of us actually will. So you should probably be smart about your money.
The automated investing process that is discussed works like this:
- Each paycheck (or pay period), you automatically allocate a percentage of your income to the investment areas. For example, every 2 weeks you take 5% of your income and send it to your investment account.
- This money collects in the accounts and is allocated accordingly based on your goals
- Repeat. Don't touch it.
Then Tony talks about different strategies, portfolio allocations, types of investments, how it all works. how you're getting screwed by mutual funds, mindset, beliefs and why you should start doing this.
Well, yeah. But if you're like me, you want DETAILS. Like, exact steps on how to do this. We're all smart people, but when there are a lot of moving parts, you want to make sure you do it correctly.
THIS is where the disconnect has always been for me – I read (literally) hundreds of books a year about topics…but rarely do they get into actionable details on what to do. That's why I want to show you how exactly how I do it so you can copy me if you so choose.
The Step By Step Investment Process – Automated and Allocated
OK – let me be clear: this is not perfect. I cannot and do not take responsibility for anything you do based on this. It's just what I do. It works REALLY well for me and I hope it does for you. I don't endorse any of these companies specifically, they're just what I've been using.
Like I said, next year I will do an entire business course that talks about building a digital business from the ground up and I'll do crazy detail on topics like this. But for now, hopefully this answers some questions. Mostly I just wish someone had written this for me a year ago (or 10 years ago for that matter).
Let's assume you want to save some money and create a personal “fund” that will compound over time and make you rich enough to be able to live off the returns that fund puts out each year. Here's the exact process on how I'm doing that:
- Setup an investment account. I use Scottrade (only bc I've had an account for 10 years) but you can also use Schwab, Fidelity, E-trade, whatever. There isn't a “best” solution here – mostly just keep in mind minimum balances, trade costs, and ease of integration to your bank (not a huge deal). They're all pretty similar.
- Determine how much of your bi-weekly or monthly income you want to send over. If you don't have a payroll system setup for yourself, no problem – it may be better for you to just do a fixed dollar amount. The only thing that matters is that it's tracked and it is automatically recurring.For example, if you make approximately $5,000 a month, you may want to automatically deposit $500 of that. This may be 10% one month and 8% the next, but it's close enough.
- Go into your investment account (Scottrade) and setup a “Recurring Deposit.” This may have different names in different businesses, but just search for “Recurring” or ” “Automatic investing” and you'll find it. Set it up to withdrawal a certain dollar amount from your account each month.Keeping with the example, let's say $500 each month. This means that Scottrade is going to AUTOMATICALLY take that money out of your bank account and put it in your investment account.
- Let this system run for a few weeks/months and watch the money accumulate in your investment account.NOTE: this is what I didn't understand the first time – depositing in your investment account DOES NOT mean you're investing your money. It just means it's now in the account so that you CAN invest it when you're ready. The only time this is different is with a 401K which I'm not going to talk about here.So, you'll be putting money in your investment account, but it's not invested yet. That's ok.
- Once you get a critical amount of money (let's say $4,000) from both opening deposits and automatic deposits, you're ready to invest. Tony's recommendation comes from two top fund managers – David Swenson who runs Yale's endowment and Ray Dalio who manages the biggest hedge fund in the world. Let's take a quick break to walk through those portfolio allocations.
I'm going to show you exactly what the portfolio breakdowns are PLUS a link to an example index fund that represents these buckets. This is what the book is all about – using Vanguard (or other), low cost index funds. Of course, I cannot guarantee or predict future performance and these are ONLY as a point of reference. I would recommend doing your own research before making any final decisions (but this will help save you a lot of time).
1. David Swenson – Manages Yale endowment and grew it to $24B. Growth, Stock heavy. Here's the breakdown of what Swenson recommends:
- Domestic Stocks – 20% –https://www.google.com/finance?q=VUG
- International Stocks – 20% – https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSEARCA:VEU
- Emerging Stock Markets – 10% – https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSEARCA:VWO
- REITs – 20% – https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSEARCA:VNQ
- Long Term US Bonds – 15% –https://www.google.com/finance?q=BLV
- TIPS (Treasury Inflation Protected Securities) – 15% –https://www.google.com/finance?q=VTIP
2. Ray Dalio – “All Seasons” which implies it's goal is to mitigate risk. Here's the breakdown:
- Stocks – 30% – https://www.google.com/finance?q=VTI
- Gold – 7.5% – https://www.google.com/finance?q=IAU
- Commodities – 7.5% – https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSEARCA:VAW
- Intermediate US Bonds – 15% –https://www.google.com/finance?q=BIV
- Long Term US Bonds – 40% – https://www.google.com/finance?q=BLV
Both of these have been very successful. On average, Swenson's is more growth oriented (which also has more risk). It's your call on how you want to do this depending on your own tolerance and stage in life.
Now that you see these portfolios, let's go back to the step by step instructions.
The Step By Step Investment Process Cont'd
- Take your lump sum and purchase the corresponding amount of each fund. Using Swenson's portfolio as an example with your $4,000, you would buy:
- $800 of Domestic Stock index fund
- $800 of International Stock index fund
- $400 of Emerging Stock Market index fund
- $800 of REIT index fund
- $600 of Long Term US Bond index fund
- $600 of TIPS index fund
- You do this by taking the amount of money you are going to spend (see above) and dividing it by the share price. That's how many shares you will be buying (minus $7 or whatever the commission is to Scottrade).
- You exit out of your account browser and forget about it until you reach the next critical sum. Let's say its $5,000 this time and happens 6 months later. You open your investment account and purchase the index funds in the same proportions. See you again in a few months.
- Every 6 or 12 months (depending on your portfolio size) you will also want to re-balance your portfolio. This means you will:
- Add up the value of all the shares you currently own
- Compare them to the percentages seen above
- Sell excess in the over performing shares, buy shares in the underperforming
- For example – if Domestic Stocks are making WAY more money than Long Term US bonds, they could start to account for 25% of your portfolio and bonds fall to 10%. You would sell off the shares in order to bring that number back to 20%, then buy more Long Term US bonds to bring it back up to 15%.
- That's it.
Keep in mind that you want to do this ONLY when you have a “critical mass” because of the transaction fees. With Scottrade, $7 across 6 trades = $42. If I did that every 2 weeks, I would be killing my return potential. The more money you can invest at once, the better your fee structure looks (it's $7 if you invest $500 or if you invest $50,000).
Once you have this setup, it really is pretty boring. But it works. The hardest part is just leaving it alone. The economy may bomb. You may get a hot stock tip. Doesn't matter – you need to follow this system and stay objective.
By doing this, you will be on your way to “making your money work for you.” Eventually it will get big enough where the amount that it grows each year can be sold off and you keep the cash. So if it's $1M in size and growing at 5%, you can potentially sell $50,000 worth of stock each year, every year because the $1M wouldn't change. Make sense?
By no means is this the full picture. In fact, I feel a tinge of apprehension publishing this because the picture is SO much bigger than this. I would highly recommend reading Tony's book and also reading Ramit Sethi's book I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Between those two resources, you'll learn everything you need to know. (Sidenote: Ramit's blog is awesome, worth checking out here).
Read those books, then come back to this and you'll see why I wrote it. Sometimes you just need to go through the steps ONE MORE TIME.
In any event, I really hope this helps! It's super important and a big part of business that doesn't get talked about in marketing because it's so damn boring….but I can promise you it will be one of the best things you've ever done.
If you know anyone who would benefit from this, please share this post with them! Also comment below with any questions or experiences you've had – I'd love to know how this sort of information helps you.
Rock and roll,